Garrett being a future Peace Corps volunteer (therefore an avid believer in their principles) and me being an over-thinker - constantly worrying about stepping on toes - it is very important to us that whatever we do in the village is accepted, desired and done in the right way. Therefore, it is crucial to have the advice of key people who will make this effort a success.
Contact #1: The Acting Village Head Man's Son
I met Abel upon arriving in the village - during the welcoming kava ceremony - and have since been in contact with him via phone and mail. What's been amazing is having Abel keep us informed of what's going on in the village, the status of his father's health, what they're in need of, and whether we'd be welcome and accepted to bring this effort their way.
Upon last word, Abel is meeting us at the airport on December 3rd and said we are most welcome to stay in the village do what we're coming to do.
Abel took a year off before his last year of boarding high school to take care of his parents and their vulnerable health. For the time being, he's one of the few young adults in the village, as the rest are all off in school. Whether it's the fact that we're all of similar age or that he has high ambitions for himself and his village, he shares our concern for the betterment of his village and appreciates the manner in which we're approaching this mission.
Contact #2: The Expat Volunteer Coordinator
Kimbo was the first person I met upon arriving in Fiji this summer. I blame him for my instant love of the country thanks to his barefoot pick-up from the airport. One of my bucket list items being a shoe-less existence for an extended period of time, I found his lifestyle immediately enviable.
I contacted Kimbo the day I found the flight deal to Fiji and asked his opinion of our idea for The Nakavika Project. Having lived in Fiji for three years now as a British expat, I assumed he had the ability to relate to both mindsets: ours and a Fijian's. He seemed to be the best person to consider our mission and its effectiveness in this specific location...and he is.
The e-mails I received from Kimbo are pages long, filled with sage advice all backed up with experience and specific examples. From his words, Garrett and I now know how to best handle the act of giving to the village, which issues need the most help and how much we might expect to achieve. We definitely don't have our heads in the clouds; we have realistic expectations of the project that will lend to the formation of achievable goals.
Funding the Trip
I often have people ask how I fund my trips. Obviously, the internship wasn't on my dollar, but Garrett and I felt so strongly about this trip we used our own funds to purchase these flights. Garrett sold his car, and I am using the last of my earnings from working in the past year. When we return from Fiji, I will have virtually zero liquid dollars, and Garrett will live at home and work until he leaves for East Africa on the government's dime. For us, it's worth it.
I will still have car insurance and loan payments to consider while I'm gone, but the greatest thing for my wallet is my ability to live at home and curb those costs of rent, utilities and groceries. If I were an Italian man, no one would think twice about me still living with my parents, and as far as I'm concerned, it's no real inconvenience to me. I appreciate that the opportunity is still extended to me, and I'll take advantage of it until I get a job next year...yes, a bonafide job with hours and duties. Of course, I'll be keeping up my website at the same time, which will make for some long and tiring days.
Looking for Sponsorship
In an effort to inform more people about our mission and have resources with which to apply our objectives, Garrett and I started immediately on a proposal to request funding or material donations from many different individuals and companies. In the proposal, we layed out our direction (where we're going and what we're doing), who we are and the organizations we represent, the details of our objectives, and the needs we have shouldered with the benefits for those who offer us support.
From the trip's conception, we've had the backing of an organization known as Fighting for Futures, which focuses on using creative means to empower underprivileged youth around the world.
Kimbo stated the need for more attention on oral health, and since then, Garrett has been talking to dental offices in his area about donations and information on taking care of teeth with limited resources. Luckily his mom is a dental hygienist, but having a proposal that clearly states our intentions and steps for getting somewhere has been incredibly beneficial.
In regards to the documentation of the trip, we made a list of needs, from laptop covers (to protect from the elements) to HD camcorders. We are slowly whittling down the list as companies respond to our needs, thanks to comments made on twitter and through personal e-mails. These people/groups are taking advantage of the mutual benefits we are pitching their way, using personalized proposals that incorporate an exchange of goods or services.
- Outdoor gear companies can see their products at work in this natural environment
- Technology accessories can receive reviews and endorsement from the products we use and love
We're trying to present opportunities for symbiotic connections, which will ultimately push the project into the realm of sustainability (thanks to funding, support and resources).
Find out more about our process of preparation for The Nakavika Project by checking out the videos. And follows as we take our first steps into Fiji!